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          Jan 05, 2012


Anglican and Protestant Missions Impact on the Church of the East

Part 1


Mar Shimoun IV Bassidi was elected patriarch in 1437 Hierarchical struggle for the top positions led to controversy, especially after the elected patriarch enacted a law that restricted his office to members of his own family. The patriarch had to be a celibate; it meant that a nephew or an uncle would succeed him. Hereditary succession was against the canons of the Nestorian Church of the East.

The process was challenged in 1551 by preists and monks and elected a monk, mar Yhannan Sulaka from Rabban Hormizd Monastery near Alkosh, he was elected Patriarch and sent to Rome via Jerusalem, where he was received as a Catholic and ordained as the first Uniate Patriarch. In 1692 his successor renounced Catholicism, but the line from Mar Sulaka has persisted until today, bearing the title Mar Shimoun, and other successors, who bore the title, mar Elia attempted reconciliation with Rome, in order to put an end to the rival branch of mar Uhannan Sulaka.

Chaldean Nestorians in Hakkari sought to separate themselves from the Armenian patriarch's tutelage in the late nineteenth century by petitioning for direct Ottoman supervision, but without success. Their legal status remained vague at the turn of the twentieth century. They were nominally under the jurisdiction of the Hakkari tribe and were protected by their mountain fastness, which accounted for their independence.

The advent of Protestant missionaries in the nineteenth century impacted rather negatively on Chaldean Nestorian communities. The "evangelical awakening" of the eighteenth century in Great Britain had quickened religious life in Protestant circles, and the Church Mission Society was established in London in 1799, to be followed in 1804 by the British and Foreign Bible Society. In the United States, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was organized in 1810; the Catholic "foreign Gospel conquest preceded them by a few centuries. With the rise of economic imperialism in Europe, the road was paved for the missionaries, who had both financial resources and personnel, to make a global assault on barbarian heathen nations.